Email letters, April 17, 2012

Actual numbers, not percentages, would be more helpful

I read with great interest the article by Mike Wiggins regarding the county employee exodus, presumable over the ongoing pay freeze. Normally Mike’s articles are a lot more forthcoming with relevant facts, however this time he seems to primarily report percentages which means little to the average reader since we are not aware of the number of county administrative employees.

The numbers he cites are that people leaving is 17.5 percent for 2011, up 1.5 percent over previous year, but down 3.5 percent for the year preceding that. He goes on to point out that the normal turnover range for public public sector is normally in the 12–14 percent range. The question is what does the increase really mean in real numbers of employees? For instance, if we have 1,000 county administrative and clerical employees, which I would think is abnormally high, we are only talking about 15 people more than the previous year. This hardly seems like a catastrophic exodus unless we are talking about front-line administrators. 

Mike normally does a much better and thorough job of explaining things in terms that the average taxpayer and citizen can understand. I would hope he would visit the subject again in a future article and give us more meaningful numbers. As it stands now, since private sector jobs are at a minimum, it sounds like the county administrators are simply clamoring through Mike for more employees, wage increases, and increased benefits.   

Grand Junction

History at the Hotel Colorado

I am the historical tour guide for the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs. My training comes from volunteering at the Historical Society and a passion for research into the history of the area. Thank you for the very informative and complimentary article in The Daily Sentinel about our Hotel Colorado. Over the years, myths and legends did arise from those colorful early west experiences.

Thank you also for giving a factual story about the origin of the “Teddy Bear.” Yes, the bear was the result of media hype and a political cartoon in the Washington Post. It seems that political hype continues to this day. Mr. Michtom did put one of his wife’s handmade bears in the window of his shop with a sign that read “Teddy’s Bear” and from that time on the sweet little bears and the bear of a man known as Theodore Roosevelt have been a popular combination.

Women of the time were known to carry a Teddy Bear as a costume accessory. Bears were the rage and by the time President Roosevelt arrived for his second hunt at the Hotel Colorado, both “Bully” and “Teddy Bear” were a part of the Roosevelt mystique. We know Alice never came to the hotel, and that she would never have dubbed that first cartoon bear Teddy, because I understand that Mr. Roosevelt did not really approve of the nick name the media had given him. He felt the name Teddy was vulgar and disrespectful, but it got public approval and, after all, he was on the campaign trail.

The Hotel Colorado enjoyed President Roosevelt’s visits. He was very kind to the staff. The cowboy hunting guides from New Castle noted that the president would greet them over the campfire and pour coffee for them. The Hotel Colorado maids and waitresses were finely trained young women hired and brought to Glenwood from Boston, Massachusetts. They lived in a dormitory behind the hotel and were very much up on current trends. These young ladies did want to give the president a gift and all wanted to be a part of that project. Each lady donated bits of precious fabric to quilt together and stuff for their own version of a Teddy Bear to present to Mr Roosevelt. That is what they did. That is our own true personal story of a “Teddy’s Bear” given to Theodore Roosevelt in 1905, three years after the news papers created the idea of a toy bear. American ingenuity took it from there.

Over the years, legends do become ingrained into the fabric of a place. The Hotel Colorado has asked me to guide guests through as factual a tour as possible of our grand old dame. However, fun is foremost, facts are more clearly presented now, but captions under photos will have to remain unchanged for the time being.

Glenwood Springs

Democrats show unity at convention

This past weekend proved to be a tale of two conventions.

In Pueblo, we saw Democrats emerge fired up and ready to go for President Obama. Republicans, on the other hand, came out of Denver deeply divided and still undecided on who to support.

I say chalk it up to Barack Obama’s consistent leadership as president and Mitt Romney’s inability to provide any clarity on who he is or where he stands.

Grand Junction

Who is to benefit from airport fence?

According to the Airport Authority Board of Directors as recently conveyed in The Daily Sentinel, Rex Tippets, the aviation director at Walker Field, is “prickly and abrupt.” They correctly note that Mr. Tippets has successfully raised grant money, brought a Subway franchise to the airport and successfully worked with the airlines to expand service. While demographics are the key drivers to airline growth in Grand Junction, since they’ve established it wasn’t likely his personality, all of these are good accomplishments that the citizens of Mesa County and Grand Junction should expect of airport leadership.

On the other hand, as also noted in the Sentinel, Mr. Tippets has alienated most of the general aviation community. He has failed to constructively communicate with the many pilots and hanger owners, the consequence being a fence that inhibits the use of their property and the general aviation area of the airport. Mr. Tippets’ actions have resulted in diminished business for companies located on the east side of the airport, and the loss of the only major aviation maintenance facility to the Mack airport.

Additionally Mr. Tippets has re-negotiated leases with favored tenants and suggested an eventual takeover of all leaseholds resulting in a loss of value for owners. Several hanger leases have sold at record low prices, even below what would be expected in an industry hammered by rising fuel costs in a poor economy. The toxic environment at the airport is not conducive to constructive people wanting to submit to being governed by the current management.

While no one can argue that commercial air service is the top priority at Walker Field, to rationalize Mr. Tippets behavior under the guise of a personality quirk, undermines and ignores the benefit that general aviation provides the community. Most successful companies in the Grand Valley utilize general aviation either directly or indirectly including companies that may be considering locating here.

While there have been many points of view expressed, there are a few simple facts. The current fence was built to contain wildlife. It only encircles the urban side of the airport. An old wire fence protects the north side of the airport. A wildlife report from the early part of last decade cites the spotting of two coyotes near the runway. Mr. Tippets claims the TSA required the fence configuration for security, but the TSA does not support this assertion. The same TSA approved a configuration requested by pilots at the Montrose Airport. Both airports are under the same TSA office. Hundreds of airports around the country have buildings that have both access to the street and the Airport Operations Area, which is what the old fence provided.

That being said, a key point has been missed entirely. During a time of epic government debt, Mr. Tippets initiated a request to build a fence to replace a perfectly good fence to restrict wildlife around the urban half of the airport in a manner inconsistent with the majority of the airports in this country that has inconvenienced and closed businesses and honest Americans. This new fence is near prison quality. It stands approximately 10 feet tall, goes underground several feet, and has three strands of electrified wire on the top. The final cost of the fence is over $3 million. It seems the bureaucracy, and the wasteful spending, that plagues our nation’s capital is ever present here in Grand Junction, and it’s not just the TSA that is out of control.

The fence begs the question, are we truly more secure as a result of this fence? And is the additional security it may or may not provide worth millions of dollars?

Americans’ satisfaction with government is at an all-time low, and for good reason. Just as we question the integrity of our political leaders in Washington, so should we question the logic of the director of aviation and the Board of Directors at the Grand Junction Airport. Our standards of performance should be higher than only doing part of the job well. 

Aside from the contractors, or at least the ones that have been paid, one also wonders, who has profited the most from the fence? It is quite possible that Mr. Tippets resume is the largest beneficiary. Future employers of Mr. Tippets at other airports seek out civil servants that have a proven track record of successfully obtaining taxpayer funds. As we look towards the election in November we should focus on building more competency in Washington, but also here at home too.

Grand Junction

Democrats are responsible for a lot of good

I am responding to Mike Bambino’s April 17 letter in which he blames Democrats for everything that is wrong with America:  Mr. Bambino needs to take a basic American history course to learn about the origins of our country before penning any more ill-informed diatribes. He might learn that America was founded on the principal of religious freedom, and that our school system was not established to preach Christianity.

Attempting to blame liberals and the public schools for the “filth” in this country shows an appalling lack of intelligence combined with one individual’s narrow version of truth.

Without those godless Democrats, we would not have Social Security, Medicare, the G.I. Bill and a host of other successful social and educational programs that have strengthened this country.

Personally, I don’t know how Republicans can proclaim their love for God, fill our churches every Sunday, then go and vote against virtually every policy that helps the poor, the disadvantaged, the disabled, etc. As Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I don’t know what church Mr. Bambino attends, but in my experience hatred and intolerance have never been Christian values.


U.S. should restart space program

As I sit here watching the landing of the space shuttle Discovery at the Smithsonian museum, I have a lump in my throat and some fear in my heart.

I grew up with the moon and space program as a big part of my life. Whenever there was a moon mission, my parents would let me stay home from school to watch the launches and landings. I would do some report on them to make the time up to my teachers. In the 1960s, there were two major news topics, the moon missions, and the Vietnam war. My parents focused me on the positive of the moon missions, rather than the violence and killing in Vietnam. I am grateful for that.

It is a known fact that to be the number one world super power, part of the requirement is that you be the leader in manned space exploration. Now that we are relying on the Russians for getting to the International Space Station, and the Chinese are planning a moon landing by 2020, we are losing a big edge in our number one superpower status.

Many people say the space program is a gigantic waste of money, and we need to spend the money elsewhere. I disagree. We can have a viable manned space program and address our social responsibilities as well. We just need to eliminate the idiotic wasteful spending in other areas of our national budget, like foreign aid, supporting illegal immigrants etc. The cancellation of the Apollo and shuttle programs were based on smaller budget shortfalls than what we pay to Jordan to “be our friend”.

The world has never been as united as one as it was on July 21, 1969, when Neil Armstrong said “That’s one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.”

Grand Junction


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